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50 Men Who Cook to be held virtually Aug. 8

SYCAMORE – The 16th annual 50 Men Who Cook will be an Iron Chef-style online event. The celebrity chef judge for the event will be Mario Rizzotti, an Iron Chef America Judge and Italian Culinary Expert.

The event will be held virtually via Zoom from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 8. For event access, there is a $20 minimum donation per person.

50 Men Who Cook is hosted by and benefits Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) DeKalb County.

Jill Olson, the executive director of CASA DeKalb County, said that the event is the biggest annual fundraiser for the nonprofit organization.

CASA is the guardian ad litem appointed to abused and neglected children in DeKalb County. These children are in the court system through no fault of their own. CASA advocates interview the child and all relevant parties in their lives and share this information with the judge so the judge can make decisions that enhance the child’s well-being.

“The event helps us raise funds to support the work we do,” she said. “The money raised is used to train and support our advocates, and all money stays locally in DeKalb County. Our advocates are trained using a curriculum by the national CASA association.”

50 Men Who Cook usually attracts about 500 people and could not be held in-person due to the guidelines of Gov. JB Pritzker’s Phase 4 of Restore Illinois plan.

“We wanted to hold an online event while keeping the flavor, entertainment and enjoyment of the in-person event,” Olson said.

This year, the number of chefs competing has been limited due to the online platform setting, in order for the audience to better view the live cooking performance of each chef. About 15 chefs will compete.

Instead of bringing and tasting the food and being judged in person, the chefs will be cooking at home. The chefs will be judged on originality, presentation and virtual taste. People who donate and watch the event live will be able to vote for the People’s Choice Award.

Amateur chefs can choose to create a dish from four categories: side dish, appetizer, entrée or dessert. Professional chefs will be required to use a white truffle sauce in their dish.

“The online event gives us the opportunity to pull back the curtain and see what our local amateur and professional chefs are doing in the kitchen,” Olson said. “Usually the chefs cook ahead of time and people have the opportunity to see, taste and vote. This year, will have the opportunity to see how they cook, their style and way of doing things. We have some really skilled amateur chefs and talented professional chefs in our area that will be competing.”

Next year’s event is planned to be held on Saturday, Aug. 14, at Barsema Alumni and Visitors Center at Northern Illinois University.

To make a donation to CASA DeKalb County or for more information, visit

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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